The year is 2008. The Apple App Store was just introduced to the world. Although this has become the standard, imagine that moment: People were suddenly able to buy and download applications onto their smartphone!
At this time, the mytaxi founders Niclaus Mewes and Sven Külper were brainstorming new ideas for mobility. An ambitious vision was formed to build a mobility platform, cutting out the “middle man,” (and subsequently all of the back-and-forth communication) directly connecting drivers and passengers.
While the business case was easy to envision (scalability, disruptive efficiency, digital transformation), the path to attract new customers was not so clear. Especially since the reliability and trust around such a service hadn’t been established yet.
After building the first technical proof of concept, Niclaus Mewes felt an early need to invest in visual clarity and the needs of the user. A visionary who clearly understood the strategic value of good design. Upon discovering our work on the then first Cinemaxx App, he approached us with his plan. Our initial goals were to step up the design game and define a consistent design language which felt home within Apple Eco System family (iOS 5). Combining the strategic initiative of my taxi and our design skills, we wanted to impress customers and investors alike (which had the nice side effect of attracting drivers as well, who in the beginning were not as keen on the idea).
After re-skinning the User Interface in the then celebrated skeuomorphic style, we turned our focus onto the ominous human being that ultimately would make a daily habit out of ordering a ride (ideally in just one simple interaction). Instead of branching out with gimmicky features that would bloat the app, we tried really tuning in to the real-life moment when an individual orders a taxi (back in 2008).
The act of booking a taxi was all around a stressful task — probably only essential for frequent business trips or party guests. This insight led the mytaxi product team to define a new Golden Path (or Key User Journey) which kept the digital booking process as seamless as possible.
While our functional Key User Journey tested very successfully, we noticed that cutting out the middle man also meant cutting out many verbal (and therefore natural) interactions with real people. People used to talk… nicely even sometimes.
Maybe a bit exaggerated. But the main challenge here was on point: How might we keep the now digitalized interaction within the mytaxi app as minimal as possible (best case: one touch) in order to give the conversational experience with the driver in context of the ride more space? This led to a lot of follow up questions:
After defining the product, we were able to focus our attention on the brand. Key challenges were customer loyalty, fleet extension and internationalisation. The success of the projectwould eventually convince investors like Daimler, T-Venture, Car2go and others.
The competition and pressure in terms of pace and quality though was tough. Big and small companies like Google, Uber, Lyft, easytaxi, hailo, gettaxi were all competing for a leading position in the worldwide mobility market.
The question that came to our mind was: Brand evolution or revolution? Fun-fact: T-Venture helped us answer that question, demanding that mytaxi needed a new logo because the "T"-Logo was too reminiscent of the Telekom logo.
No one asked for this new logo. It was forced under stressful circumstances and got a lot of negative press. People weren't expecting that kind of a change (they usually don't in general).
We knew that up front. We urged mytaxi to take it as a strategic chance to enter the European market with a bang and get attention from the big players. It was a risky, but conscious decision: Rattle loyal customers to get a lot more customers.
The success prooved us right. Looking back, this rebrand represented a major leap for the startup. The logo was everywhere. The whole mytaxi movement wore it with pride. It was even distributed across 11 markets.
2012 was a wild ride and definitely not “business as usual” for anybody involved in the mytaxi success story. As a team of excellent developers, product managers, marketers, testers and shareholders, we had a very efficient and tight collaboration with valuable output on a weekly basis. We were very lucky that the team valued design that much.
With Version 4.0 we helped mytaxi to hit a major milestone: Apple App Store App of the Year, 10m investment by Daimler, 10m downloads. This success paved the way for other great developments over the coming years.
In 2014, the taxi industry was already changed forever. Very few drivers complained about the transformation in the long run. mytaxi had 1.000 employees, a fleet of 100.000 Taxis and more than 10 Million Downloads (although in addition to the growing numbers were the growing number of competitors). We were proud about our contributions that led to this amount of impact in such short amount of time. Thinking forward though, one thing was clear for us: The big exit in 2014.
Modulr helped us being recognized as one of a few great german startups.Niclaus Mewes, Founder of mytaxi
In 2018 though, right before we knew about the plans of the merging mobility brands of Daimler and BMW that would come together as FreeNow, we were once again commissioned for another redesign. Since we didn’t know about any branding restrictions, we came up with our own system of colors, shapes and typography. Our focus was to strip down the User Interface as much as possible (quite a reversal from our strategy in 2012). Unfortunately though, only parts of our redesign concept went into the actual final version of the app.